They were very clear: this is not a “craft cocktail” bar. The staff is nattily dressed in crisp, white shirts and black bowties, but there aren’t any hipsters here. The bar is devoid of vials and droppers, just a few brown, paper wrapped bitters bottles are stocked. The cocktail list is brief, but well-edited. However, what they do, they are doing very well. Salt Cellar has been only for only a few days, but bar manager Sean Carmichael and his staff has been stirring up delicious drinks for customers that line up four deep inside the sleek bar space.
The shelves are stocked with a gorgeous array of top-shelf spirits (Van Winkle 10 year, representin’), the Martinez ($9) is made with Hayman’s Old Tom gin and simply divine. A chocolate martini gets an unexpected boost from a bit of cayenne in the sugar rim. However, the best cocktail to kick off an inaugural visit to Cathedral Hill’s newest restaurant is a classic dazzler of a champagne cocktail for $9.00 or $7.00 during happy hour.
The Cellar Champagne Cocktail begins with a sugar cube doused in Angostura bitters dropped into the bottom of the glass. Segura Viudas Brut Reserva cava is spiked with a judicious amount of Grand Mariner and finished with an orange twist. The wine selection is worth noting, as Leslie Miller has done up the entire wine list with a wide selection (available to order by food pairing via an iPad, plus many can be purchased by the bottle there or down the street at Solo Vino). It’s a list with several special occasion bottles and a slew of affordable choices as well.
This cava lets loose a gently stream of bubbles, like endless party confetti in the glass. The hint of bitter orange perfume balances the sweetness at the bottom of the glass. The classic bitters flavor threads through every crisp, white wine sip. This drink makes any old Tuesday celebrate like a holiday.